You’ve probably seen this meme before: the 2016 presidential candidates as Game of Thrones characters. It’s funny to think of our political system as something out of a fantasy novel, but it’s probably less funny to think of our political system as a spectacle in a fantasy novel that’s known for its cynicism, darkness, and literally nothing good ever happening without something worse happening right afterwards. However, if you really think about it, the last five candidates standing (we’re including Ted Cruz because he only dropped out a couple of days ago) are perfect fits for the Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire universe. To take it a step further, they fit exactly where the kings would in the War of Five Kings.
For those who don’t remember the earlier seasons, the War of Five Kings is essentially a three way fight between three Baratheons for the Iron Throne proper and two independent independence movements on the side. Basically, Joffrey, Renly and Stannis Baratheon all believe they have a claim to the Iron Throne for various reasons, Robb Stark wants to free the North, and Balon Greyjoy wants to not deal with the jerks on the mainland anymore. All of them are eventually defeated by various enemies, and all of them line up perfectly with a specific 2016 presidential candidate. Here’s how.
Donald Trump as Joffrey Baratheon
Annoying, blonde, and maniacal, Donald Trump is a dead ringer for Joffrey Baratheon, except we don’t have the assurance that he’s actually a nice guy the way we do with Jack Gleeson. Joffrey has a lot of bluster and a penchant for cruelty, extravagance, and hot girls, and he even has that streak of incest in his background that represents Trump’s weird and creepy fascination with his daughter Ivanka. On top of that, both of them have no political experience at all.
On top of that, if Joffrey Baratheon were running in this presidential race, he’d absolutely be the guy to suggest building walls to keep the smallfolk out and making the smallfolk pay for it. He’d also be the guy who has no problem shelling out a lot of money for a 77 course wedding just because he’s king. I could just see Trump running around the White House and foreign policy meetings saying “I am the president, I can do whatever I want!” Additionally, he’d totally be the guy to pull the woman card on Hillary, especially since he was always the quickest out of the five kings to pull the gay card on Renly. Too bad pulling the woman card on Hillary Clinton actually worked out in her favor.
Also, special shoutout to Joffrey’s mom Lena Headey aka Cersei Lannister, for coming for Trump, because he totally deserves it.
Hillary Clinton as Renly Baratheon
Hillary is definitely Renly Baratheon. Not only does she come from a famous political family, her role in that family is being used to spring her forward when she might not really deserve it. Renly Baratheon might not ever have been investigated for the Westerosi equivalent of Benghazi, or had his email hacked, but he was definitely vulnerable to spies the way she is. Not to mention, the Tyrells are basically a big Super PAC who backed Renly first before backing Joffrey, and we all know who’s got Wall Street’s vote.
On the flip side, Hillary has had to deal with similar hurdles that Renly did. While Hillary Clinton isn’t gay, she’s had to deal with a lot of sexist bullshit for no particular reason, just like Renly had to deal with all of the crap that came with being gay in a homophobic world. Renly wasn’t the best choice to be king, but he was right about one thing: people like him better than Stannis. It’s the same thing with Hillary Clinton: she might not have enough popular votes right now to beat Trump, but she’d beat the shit out of Ted Cruz.
Ted Cruz as Stannis Baratheon
Ted Cruz was the reason I thought of this comparison. Rewatching earlier episodes of Game of Thrones, I noticed that Stannis Baratheon talks a lot like a politician in the real world that believes he has a right to his position because God gave it to him. He’s also hyperfocused on spreading the gospel of R’hllor, and burning alive the ones who don’t listen. Ted Cruz was the evangelical candidate, and if Ted Cruz were in Westeros, I could absolutely see him telling voters that “the night is dark and full of terrors.” This is a pretty sobering thought, especially considering the amount of legislature that gets pushed by the Tea Party and evangelical politicians that goes out of its way to disenfranchise people. Ted Cruz might not actually be burning people, but he’s insidiously dangerous, like Stannis. Joffrey might have been a horrible option for the Iron Throne, but at least when he executed people, he beheaded them, he didn’t burn them alive.
This similarity goes even deeper once you get to the current season of Game of Thrones. Keep in mind, for all of Stannis’s talk of being the one true king of Westeros, it wasn’t actually him that Melisandre saw winning the battle after all. Ted Cruz was all about saying that God wanted him to be President, but out of these five, he’s the only one not currently in the race. To be fair, he could be being sneaky about it (suspending your campaign is not the same as dropping out, at least in words), but as of right now, it looks like R’hllor was wrong, especially since the evangelicals seem to be flocking to Trump now. It goes to show that in order to be a politician, not only do you need to have good ideas, people need to like you. Neither Ted Cruz nor Stannis Baratheon really learned that.
Bernie Sanders as Robb Stark
Ah, Bernie Sanders. He’s the embodiment of a liberal populist revolution, which is exactly what Robb Stark was doing. Robb Stark never asked to be king. He just wanted his family back, and to stop having to deal with the stupidity of the crueler rules to the south. However, when duty called, and when it was apparent that he had to fight for a better and free North, Robb Stark did what he had to do, and he won every battle he ever fought, and the people loved him. However, if we’re taking Sanders’ later statements into account, he joined this race to affect policy and move the Democratic party to the left. That’s exactly what Robb was in it for. He never wanted the Iron Throne, he just wanted to free the North. He was even willing to crown Balon Greyjoy if it meant a free North, because he knew that even if the Greyjoys could be jerks, that the deadly decadent court in the south at King’s Landing was far, far worse.
The downside to this is that while Robb Stark was an inspiration to the North and probably the best for the people, he got struck down with the quickness, which is exactly what opponents are trying to do to Bernie Sanders. He does really well among independents, and would make an excellent president, but in the world of primaries, all that does is make you a target. Thank goodness we’re not in Westeros, though, or else we’d have a caucus themed Red Wedding on our hands.
John Kasich as Balon Greyjoy
John Kasich is Balon Greyjoy, specifically because it’s not even like he’s in the same stratosphere as the other candidates. While the Baratheons (and one Stark) were busy fighting each other, Balon Greyjoy was trying to figure out a way to capture and hold land on the mainland, because Greyjoys are pirates and only really fight at sea. There are people out there who don’t even know who Kasich is, let alone that he only just dropped out of the race. The issue with him being in this campaign for that long, even outlasting every Republican other than Trump, is that there is literally no way he can make up the difference in delegates over Trump. Even Ted Cruz was beating him. He stood so far out of the fray that it wasn’t like he was even running anymore. It’s not like the DNC, where Clinton and Sanders are neck and neck (at least if you discount the superdelegates). The RNC is basically a Trump smackdown.
Season 6 actually highlights this, because we went two seasons without seeing a glimpse of Balon Greyjoy, and he was suddenly back this season for a grand total of four nanoseconds. That’s sort of like Kasich: people remembered him now that he’s dropping out, because it’s the first time he’s really had his name anywhere in awhile. Ironically, after Balon Greyjoy’s little fall, the Iron Islands have to have an election that works a lot like a primary.
We literally live in Westeros, and it’s the worst thing in the world. The fact that I can accurately make this comparison, and it can make sense from an objective perspective, is terrifying. The only difference, really, is that some of the candidates fell earlier or later than their Westerosi counterparts. This is why we can’t have nice things.